A Complete Guide to E-Juice Steeping
If you have been vaping for a while, chances are that you have come across the term “steeping” at least once. The deeper you delve into the steeping topic, the more complicated and controversial it gets. Some strongly argue that steeping your e-liquids will substantially add to its flavor, while others claim that it diminishes the taste of them. Some assert that it doesn’t alter the flavor much at all. So, which side is right? Should you steep your e-juices or not? This article will discuss the steeping process in depth, and will help answer these questions and others for you as well.
What is E-Liquid Steeping?
Technically speaking, using the term “steeping” for e-juices is incorrect. According to Dictionary.com, the word steep means to “soak (food or tea) in water or other liquid so as to extract its flavor or to soften it.” Since e-juice is a liquid and not a solid, the more proper term to describe the process would be “aging.” In any case, steeping, as it relates to e-liquids, is simply the process of allowing your juices to age prior to using it.
When your e-liquid sits for an extended period of time (usually about a week), it allows air, and therefore oxygen, to make contact with the juice. The introduction of oxygen will, in turn, ignite the process of oxidation and oxidation-reduction (Redox). Simply stated, oxidation is the process in which electrons are lost, while oxidation-reduction is when electrons are stolen from one atom or compound by another. This causes the properties of the e-juice to change, thereby altering its properties to an extent.
Should I steep My E-Juice?
The answer to this question represents the epicenter of the steeping dispute. Some are completely convinced that steeping is a must, while others firmly maintain that the longer the e-liquid sits around, the worse it tastes. So, which side is right? Well, both actually.Depending on the length of time, steeping an e-liquid flavor will undoubtedly alter its taste, at least to some degree. The result of the process will be intensifying certain notes, while simultaneously weakening others. Depending on the specific liquid flavor, this can be a good or bad thing. It can cause the best notes to be drowned out, or the finest flavors to
Generally speaking (and this isn’t always the case), the fewer the flavors in an e-liquid, the more stark and profound the change will be. For example, let’s take flavor that is a combination of apples and strawberries. At first, you may notice both flavors equally—perhaps one flavor will shine upon inhale and the other upon exhale. However, if the e-juice is steeped for two weeks, the strawberry may be much more acute than the apple, or vice versa. Extremely complex e-liquids, on the other hand, will sometimes cause a muddling of the various flavors, as they all may blend together making it difficult to distinguish between the various flavors. For example, a tropical e-juice flavor with pineapple, mango, papaya, passionfruit, and kiwi may seem like a jumbled fruit concoction after a period of steeping.
So, should you steep your e-juice? It depends on the specific flavor you are vaping, as well as your personal preferences. The result of steeping can taste amazing to one vaper, while tasting horrible to another. The only way to really know is to try both and see which one you like better. In order to make a proper assessment, the best thing to do is purchase two bottles of your favorite e-juice. Allow one to steep while you vape the other. In about a week or so, try the steeped bottle and see which you like better.
How to Steep Your E-Juice:
There are various ways in which you can steep your e-liquid. There is the natural path, which is most recommended, and there is a speedy path that some take, but is generally not considered the best route. Here are the various ways you can steep your e-juice, along with some helpful tips.
THE NATURAL STEEPING PROCESS:
Step 1: The Bottle
The very first thing to notice when you receive your e-juice is what type of bottle it is stored in. Some will come in a plastic bottle, while others will come in a glass one. If the liquid comes in a plastic bottle, it is recommended that you transfer it to a glass bottle before storing it. The reason for this is that plastic is susceptible to the acidity found in e-liquids, while glass is completely resistant to it. Although it takes an extended period of time for this to occur, the plastic may eventually alter the taste of your e-juice.
Step 2: Shake Vigorously
It is important to shake the bottle of e-juice robustly in order for all of the various compounds to adequately mixed together. It is recommended that shaking is repeated every two days during the steeping process to ensure consistency.
Step 3: Storage
Although there are loads of articles, blogs, and posts on forums regarding proper storage, you don’t need to take this overboard. It’s not necessary to build a state-of-the-art humidor to properly store your e-liquids. Simply storing them in a dark space that maintains a moderate temperature of approximately 65°F - 75°F (18°C - 24°C) is sufficient. Although this is the ideal temperature range, don’t worry if the temperature is slightly more or less. The primary goal is to avoid extreme temperatures and direct exposure to light. Generally, a cabinet or closet would be just fine for storing your e-juices.
Step 4: Duration
The length of time you should steep your e-juice depends on various factors, such as the specific flavor as well as the VG-to-PG consistency. Vegetable Glycerin (VG) is substantially thicker than Propylene Glycol (PG), which may necessitate a longer steeping period. Moreover, certain flavor types, such as dessert may require slightly longer steeping periods as well, as they tend to be more complex than flavors such as tobacco and fruit.
The general steeping time range is 10 to 30 days. Whereas those with highly refined pallets may notice the difference in the longer steep time, for most vapers, a period of 10 days should be adequate.
Step 5: Let it Breath
Although not necessary, it is generally good practice to allow the e-liquid to breath for a short while after it has been steeped. Simply unscrew the bottles cap and allow it to sit for a period of about an hour or so. If your bottle has a needle-type tip, try to remove it to allow adequate space for the air to make contact with the e-juice. This will help dissipate some of the more volatile elements, thereby making the flavor a bit smoother.
THE SPEEDY STEEPING PROCESS:
For those who don’t wish to take an extended period of time to steep their e-juice, you can help speed up the process considerably. When the temperature of e-liquid is raised, the process of oxidation occurs more rapidly. Although there is a vast array of strategies on how to do this, such as using cooked rice, the best method is a warm water bath.
Step 1: Shake Vigorously
As with the natural steeping method, it is advised to first shake the bottle of e-juice very well.
Step 2: Warm Water
The next thing you need to do is get a small container that is deep enough to cover the entire bottle. Pour warm water into the container, making sure to fill it up enough so that the water level is at least as high as the height of the bottle. It is very important to use warm water and not hot water, as the high heat will tarnish the taste of the e-juice, particularly if it contains nicotine. Try to keep the water temperature between 85°F and 105°F (30°F - 41°F).
Once the water has cooled (usually within a few hours), take the e-juice bottle out, shake it well, then repeat the process once more. Once the water has cooled again, your e-juice should be relatively well-steeped. If you don’t experience enough of a difference or wish to steep it further, you can repeat the above steps until the taste is to your liking.
Step 3: Let it Breath
Just as with the natural steeping process, it may be a good idea to allow the e-juice to breath for a while after it has been steeped.
What You Will Notice After Steeping:
Once the steeping process has completed, the very first thing you will notice is the
change in color. The longer an e-juice is steeped, the darker it will get. When you place a fresh bottle of e-liquid next to an identical one that has been steeped for an extended period of time, you are easily able to see a very stark difference. Nicotine greatly contributes to the darkened color, so the higher the nicotine strength, the darker the e-juice will get.
When you vape steeped e-liquid, you will notice a change in the flavor as well. Certain notes may be intensified, while others might soften. With some flavors, the difference may not be very noticeable whatsoever. Those may need further steeping time, or are one of those unique flavors that simply doesn’t alter much over time.
You may potentially experience a slight alteration of the odor as well once your e-liquid has been properly steeped. You may notice certain aromas to be more pungent than others. It is possible that the overpowering scents you could smell prior to steeping have dissipated somewhat, allowing for various others to shine through.
Steeping is something that is as much a matter of personal preference as it is the specific e-juice flavor. While some may enjoy the taste of an e-liquid fresh out of the bottle, others may fancy a period of steeping prior to vaping it. The question of whether you should steep your juices or not depends on your pallet and the particular e-juice being steeped. It is not something that can be definitively answered or universally applied. The only way to know whether you should steep your e-juices is to try it out for yourself with your favorite flavors.